Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Keep On Keeping On" by Frank Black


       On May 10, 1996, 17 people were preparing to make their final assault on the summit of Mt. Everest.  After all their lengthy preparation and expense, their goal was in sight.  The weather conditions were near perfect.  Beginning around midnight they began their final ascent.  GET TO THE SUMMIT !! (the top of the world), was their solitary cry and focus.

       Did they reach the summit?  Yes, they did.  Their goal had been reached.  But had it?  What have I left out?  What had many in the group forgotten? This is summed up in what one of their experienced leaders said, “The summit is really only the halfway point. Any impulse I might have felt toward self-congratulation was quickly extinguished by overwhelming apprehension about the long, dangerous descent that lay ahead.”  Another leader was more blunt about it by saying, “With enough determination, any idiot can get up this hill, ….. the trick is to get back down alive.”

       Perhaps you know this true story; but after reaching the summit, things drastically changed.  Through some delays, some errors in judgment, and an unexpected severe weather change; their descent began. With fatigue, oxygen deprivation, looming darkness, minus 70 degree wind chill, hurricane force winds, and zero visibility - disaster loomed.  In all, 9 people died on the descent – this included some of the hardiest climbers and previous conquerors of Everest. For these 9, was their goal achieved?  NO!  They didn’t successfully conquer Everest – which includes both the ASCENT AND THE DESCENT.

       Why am I reliving this story?  Because it’s a valuable lesson in life for all of us.  It’s about preparation, work, goal-setting, leadership, completion – which encompasses PERSEVERANCE / PERSISTENCE. Perseverance is about continuing; about “keep on keeping on” – whether you’re a student; a worker; on a sports team; dealing with aging; or all of us in our Christian lives. 

       So many things can get in the way of our persevering: fatigue; boredom; unexpected obstacles or detours; influence of others; health or aging processes; stagnation or inertia (slowness of process –
“nothing seems to be happening”); anticlimactic (like descending the mountain); etc. Our God who made us knows all this about us. That’s why there are many Bible passages dealing with “perseverance”.
·         Hebrews 10:35-6 – “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
·         Colossians 1:11 – “Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance (perseverance) and patience……..”
·         Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

We need to persevere in many areas of life but none more important than our Christian journey!  Just like the other promises from God, claim the one for PERSEVERANCE. Pray to receive this.  This goes for us of all ages.  An especially critical time is for those of you between 18 and 25 – when you finish High School and may be on your own for the first time.  Now you must decide for yourself.  It’s a time when you listen, think, study, explore; BUT sincerely pray for our God to direct  you during your quest.  Another important time is when the aging process intervenes (perhaps 40’s and older).  You may feel stagnant with life – and your religion.  Now it’s time for you to pray for perseverance; to follow others who are persevering well; to read and study more in order to learn; to get more involved (even if you have to force yourself) – all these and more in order to stimulate your mind and your activity.

You know I like quotes, so I’ll conclude with a few:
·         “God sometimes moves mountains one pebble at a time.”
·         “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins ……..not through strength, but through perseverance.”
·         “May God grant you the wisdom to discover the right, the will to choose it, and the strength to persevere.”

                                                      F. Black – Oct. 13, 2014

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